Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wrap up of an attempt.

I didn't finish the Epic. I had all kinds of excuses that I was going to use but I thought the truth would be best. I say this because the real reason is that after a long and very emotionally exhausting couple of weeks, when I toed the line yesterday I was already half beaten. I had no nervous butterflies, no anticipation of the flowing singletrack or the long climbs. Nothing.
You need a reserve of mental toughness to push through the times that your body is tired or your plan isn't going quite right or even when you have a slower rider in front and you want to get around. You need that. I didn't.
I'll take a few positives away though. My first 50km was good. My recorded time and the time on my Garmin are at odds but it felt good and controlled. The nutrition plan worked a treat and I had energy the whole time I was on the bike. Today's Plan had my body as fit as it has been for years and I felt comfortable on the bike.
I didn't deal with the problems mounting up in the weeks before the race. I should have talked more about them and worked harder on solving them or at least coming to terms with them. I hope by saying this that someone else can feel comfortable in talking about a problem or letting the people around them know they are struggling a bit and seek some help. You are not alone in feeling down and you do not have to be alone in dealing with it.
I will be back racing in November for the Bayview Blast. I haven't decided whether to do the 100k or something less. My honest belief is that I should do the big one.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Epic preparations.

When a little over 14 weeks ago I did a race down at Jacks Ridge I had this little itch inside to have a go at the Cycle Epic. My  biggest struggle in the last couple of years has been the motivation to get out and do some miles to make sure I got the smiles. The pattern went like this. Say I am doing a race, put all the good intentions in the world forward about how I can train and how good it will be to get fit and then watch it all fall apart around me because I let everything else that is not riding my bike get in the way. There is no structure or tangible goal to meet on a daily basis. I kept looking at my performances over the last couple of years and it is always the same.
Anyway it was time to sort out the entry to the Epic. My good mates at Epic Event Management helped me out and I was entered. There was an interesting email that followed a couple of days later offering a training plan through Today's Plan. The pricing was fantastic and it looked quite good value. I have wanted to try a plan for years now but it hasn't fit in financially and if I had to pull out for work reasons of just because I was too slack it was a huge outlay. I finally decided that it was a small investment to make even if it didn't work out. I was in full stealth mode though. I didn't tell anyone. So on the 21st June I did a threshold test.
Fast forward to today. I am into the taper week before the Epic and I feel pretty bloody smug. I have completed almost all of the sessions apart from a couple of anomalies due to illness and life pressures and I can feel the benefits from consistent, focused training. It isn't anything like having rockets strapped to my calves but I get out for a 3 hour ride and feel strong and energised. I have looked after myself with recovery times and eaten better food. All in all I can honestly say this is the best I have prepared for an event since 2010 and I am excited to get on the course and see how I go.
I have kept my goals modest. The last time I raced the Epic I manged to finish in shade under 6 hours. It was a tough slog for me and I have to say I didn't really enjoy most of the day. I placed 51st in my category and was not really happy with my performance. I have never done the Epic with any real preparation much less a proper program and taper so it is really untested ground for me. I have looked over the times from the last couple of years and I have set my top end goal as top 20 in my age group. That would mean I need to drop over 30 minutes from my last time. Of course this is all speculative as I get further into the field and more fast guys make it up into the 40+ category but you have to have a goal. Why not push it a bit?
My race plan is straight forward too. I know the course really well and the first 50km has some serious climbs but some faster fire road and tarmac sections. I smashed myself hard in the tarmac last time I raced and really blew up bad so that lesson is learnt. I am going to use the road to eat and drink and hopefully get in  bunch to get some respite. I am happy to do a turn but last time a couple of wheel suckers latched on and wouldn't come around. If I can just get a good rhythm on the climbs I'll be stoked. While the last 37km is the most fun, I also think it is the hardest. There are a lot of singletrack sections that offer no rest and I always find it hard to get a groove for the Dandy's and Yowie sections. Couple that with Grinder and it can be a very tough day at the office. I am trading my usual singletrack brutality for a more composed and hopefully energy efficient approach. We'll see if that works!
The bike is only as good as the rider they say. Well, my Anthem Team is way ahead of me in terms of capabilities but it is certainly a great comfort to have it to race on. It is dialed. It got a little love over the last couple of days to make sure everything is tip top. Some new brake pads tonight and a final clean after Saturdays pre race warm up and it will be ready to rock. I can't speak highly enough of the Anthem platform.
No good deed goes unpunished and my mates at Cyc'd for Bikes, QBC and Giant know that for sure. Brent, Darcy and Jarron look after me way too well for an old wannabe. Huge props for that!
Finally, and my weakest area in a sea of weak areas, is what I will fuel myself with. I have had a nightmarish time with race foods of the pre-prepared and packaged type. I have consciously used only a small amount of electrolyte drink and otherwise whole foods during the 12 week training. They are by no means as convenient as gels and liquid food but I am yet to have any stomach issues from this course of action. If it works out though it picks up 10 minutes of the 30 minutes I have aimed for by simply not having to rush off into the bush with stomach cramps! Besides that an almond butter and cranberry tortilla is damn tasty!
Right, so I am off now. Two more rides before the race on Sunday and I am pumped. Stay tuned for the post race report which will either be Sunday night because I am bursting to tell the world how well I went, or sometime in 2016 when I get over the disappointment.......... :)

Friday, July 31, 2015


A little video of the Giant 3+3.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I was just riding along and.....

There has been a bit of a resurgence in my riding of late. I got motivated and started training for the Cycle Epic in September almost by accident and now I am 4 weeks into a training plan with Today's Plan and feeling pretty bloody good. I have tried many times to analyse the reasons I stop riding from time to time but there is really no explanation other than I forget how good it is! I love it in all it's forms whether it is the roll around the river on the road bike, a quick bash through some sweet single track or a multi day adventure into the bush. I really dig pedaling my bike.
It isn't like I haven't had anything to write about either. In the last couple of months there have been some very exciting additions to the stable of bikes currently residing with me. My most recent is a cyclocross bike. A TCX SLR1 to be exact. Getting that thing out on some trails and bridleways is an absolute hoot! Around my home is the perfect area for such a bike. The Pony Trails, Mount Nebo, The Goat Track. All of these are in close proximity and I can head out on the quiet roads and then jump on the dirt from some fun and hard climbs. The 105 groupset is bomb proof and the hydraulic brakes have an amazing feel and of course will pull you up way quicker than you probably ever need. The power and modulation is boss though. I hope to get out and race a few CX events soon but we will see.

The other and perhaps most exciting steed is my Anthem Advanced 0 Team. OMG.
This thing is fast and comfortable. I am running mine stock apart from the usual grips, saddle and tyres. ESI Chunkies, a Fizik Gobi because I love it and some Maxxis Ikons tubeless and the whole thing comes in a touch over 9.5kg. I have become such a fan of the hydraulic actuator on the SID forks I now want the Black Box version of the rear shock so I can have the lockout there too! I took a little while to get the suspension set up right as I have been used to the Fox variants for the last couple of years but now it is really sweet. The Rockshox Monarch RL has excellent small bump sensitivity but does have the slightest hint of "Bob" when pedaling hard on the flat. Really though, do you notice it in the real world? Nope. Could it be my crappy pedaling style? Never.....If you are climbing there is no bob and the traction is as to be expected with the Maestro system. The trail chatter is dealt with really well too. The fatigue levels in my lower back can attest to that!
I have raced a bit too. There was a top trip down to Nambucca Heads for the Jacks Ridge XXX. It is a 100km race on some really awesome single track in a beautiful part of the world. Big thanks there to Pete for the company on the drive and to Warren and Leslie and the Clews's for the conversation and banter through the weekend. While the race had to be pulled up short due to a pretty serious crash I still had a blast and hope to go back next year. The meals at the pub were certainly highlights as was the cooks tour back along the North Coast. Top weekend!
Most recently I got on the mic to become the host with the most for the #Giant3Plus3. What a top weekend! The link is to the event organisers wrap and I coudn't have said it better myself.
http://www.3plus3.com.au/event-organisers-wrap-up/. See you at next years?
I should definitely mention this whole training plan thing. Today's Plan is an online coaching system that is tailored to your needs. It has the facility to fit around your week and gives amazing feedback with graphs and instruction on workouts and goals. http://www.todaysplan.com.au/
It works for me on a couple of levels. I have a structure. I love structure. It is realistic in the time parameters as you basically set them yourself. And lastly it gets results.
When I say results I am not talking muppet to machine kind of results. I feel stronger and on a climb I have struggled with recently I felt more relaxed and in control of my body. The plan runs through until September and I can see that if I stick with it there will be some serious improvement in my fitness and riding. Don't expect to see me on any podiums but you might be able to see me next to you on some training rides chatting away happily when before I would have been out the back blowing like a train! Should be fun right?
As always my mates from #Cyc'd for Bikes, #QBC and #GiantbikesAUS rock! I still pinch myself most mornings that I get to hang out and ride such awesome gear. Ta!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Connection correction.

It's been a busy time! I made this half arsed promise to myself a few months ago to take the pressure off and stop worrying about whether I was training and just get out and be more active. It has worked really well. There were a few struggles with early mornings, I am not naturally a morning person, and a few struggles with the initial lack of fitness but they have both settled into a nice regular rhythm that I actually look forward to. On the measurable and quantifiable scale I have lost a few kg's and can now manage a bit higher average speed across my activities. The most exciting and less quantifiable areas though are what have me most excited.
I feel really level and grounded. I am enjoying work as I feel much more prepared to deal with the stress and peaks of workloads. I have way more patience when dealing with my boys than I have had for a while. That has led to some really great times with heaps of laughs and cuddles. Alison, well we had an amazing break over Christmas and even though there has been some stress with school starting again I feel very close to her and very connected. All in all the abundance of emotional energy is transferring itself into a deep and spiritual enjoyment of exercise.
I own a lot of bikes. They are all being ridden. That statement alone is new and exciting given the last couple of years. I have a very dirty and well used pair of trail running shoes. Yes, running shoes. I now do a regular core strength workout and boy is it paying dividends. That's right folks, planking, sit ups, push ups. The whole bit. I am eating REALLY well. Lots of fruit and vegetables with very few sweet treats. No booze and lots of water. 4 kg dropped people. 4kg.
So what is it all for? No particular reason. I am just riding the wave. Sure I have entered some races and have set a couple of targets but they are there for perspective, not to live my life towards. Being healthy and feeling great leads me to want to set goals and try to achieve results and not the other way around. Do the ride, do the run, wake up early. Because you can.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back on the horse in the Wild West!

Well I jumped back on the horse this weekend and knocked out a short course XC race. Bloody hell it was hard! The race was out at Adare as part of a great series called the Wild West Series on a course that is best described as sandy on the flats and rocky on the steeps. While the course wasn't long it had heaps of fun bits in it and the challenge of trying to keep up with riders that are much quicker than me kept me well and truly entertained.
I have never really been fast as a mountain biker, or in any sport I played really. When a short course race happens it is all hands to the oars right from the gun. Just to add a little humor to my story I left my race number in the van and had to bolt back to get it before the race. I got back to the line as my category was lining up with my heart already racing and at the back of the pack. As the race started I got caught in the back markers and had a very slow start. A few times some of the less skilled riders were walking over obstacles which created a traffic jam of epic proportions. Serves me right really. The traffic eased on my second lap a bit and I got into a group of similarly paced riders and we traded places for a while. It was really great to actually feel like I was racing even if it was at the back of the pack.
 I dropped the chain a couple of times. Again my own stupid fault as I had realised I needed to adjust the front mech before the race. There is nothing quite so demoralising as working to pass a group of riders and dropping a chain then watching them all ride past again. Oh well, live and learn.
Lap three was fun. I had a bit of clear track and I had a guy trying really hard to catch me. I got a little rush of adrenaline as I went around a corner and caught a glimpse of him. There was one last steep climb before a descent into the finish line and boy was he hauling to get to me. I ran up the last bit of the climb and then pinned it back to the finish. A great way to finish a fun race.
I should mention the likes of Jared Graves and Ben Forbes, both of whom passed me on my last lap like I was standing still. At least now I know I should be racing B grade.....
Image courtesy of Daimon Wright. https://www.facebook.com/Daimonwrightphotographer?pnref=lhc